Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Home Regions Campsites Penny Postcards My Corps of Discovery Image Index Links About This Site Main Menu
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Belle Vue Point"
Includes ... Belle Vue Point ... Sauvie Island ... Kelley Point ... Coon Island ...
Image, Belle Vue Point, Sauvie Island, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Belle Vue Point, Sauvie Island, Oregon, as seen from Blurock Landing, Washington. The mouth of the Willamette River is visible on the left. Image taken July 1, 2009.


Belle Vue Point ...
The location of Lieutenant Broughton's "Belle Vue Point" has always been an interesting problem, with some historians saying Sauvie Island while some historicans saying Kelley Point. In 1934 the U.S. Board of Geographic names, based on research from J. Neilson Barry, made Sauvie Island's "Belle Vue Point", the official "Belle Vue Point".

Sauvie Island or Kelley Point ...
Historians have long questioned where Broughton's "Belle Vue Point" was located, with some saying it was on Sauvie Island and others saying it was the location of today's Kelley Point. Kelley Point is located on the right ("southern") bank at the mouth of the Willamette River and Broughton wrote that Belle Vue Point was on the Willamette River's "southern point of entrance". Broughton's map also shows Belle Vue Point on the right bank at the mouth of the Willamette. However, research done in the late 1920s and early 1930s by J. Neilson Barry showed the islands and channels of the Willamette River changed throughout the years, and Broughton's Belle Vue Point was most likely "Coon Island" and the Willamette's main channel in 1792 was between Sauvie Island and Coon Island. Later that channel was filled in and Coon Island became part of today's Sauvie Island, and the main channel moved further east. (See more below.)

Sauvie Island's "Belle Vue Point" ...
Sauvie Island's "Belle Vue Point" is located on the left (northern) bank at the mouth of the Willamette River. In 1934 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names accepted "Belle Vue Point" as the official name for this section of land. Other variants in use were "Belle View Point" and "Coon Island".

"Jolie Prairie" and "Belle Vue Point" ...
"Jolie Prairie" is the name of the flood plain on the Washington (north) side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 107. In 1829 it became home to the second Fort Vancouver. "Jolie Prairie" was occasionally referred to as "Belle Vue Point".
[More]

Views ...

Image, 2003, Kelley Point and mouth of the Willamette River, Oregon, from Blurock Landing, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Kelley Point (treed area middle left) and mouth of the Willamette River (to the right of Kelley Point), and the point of Sauvie Island (treed area right), thought by some to be Broughton's "Belle Vue Point"). View from Blurock Landing, Washington. Image taken July 2, 2003.
Image, Willamette River, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Mouth of the Willamette River, Oregon, as seen from Blurock Landing, Washington. Kelley Point is treed area on the on the left and Sauvie Island's Belle Vue Point is treed area on the right. Drainage in foreground is Vancouver Lake's flushing channel. Image taken July 1, 2009.


History

  • 1792 ... Lieutenant Broughton
  • 1825 ... Hudson's Bay Company's Survey Map
  • 1930 ... J. Neilson Barry, Letter to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names
  • 1931 ... J. Neilson Barry
  • 1934 ... U.S. Board of Geographic Names
  • 1937 ... Washington Historical Quarterly


1792 ... Lieutenant Broughton
Some historians say that today's Kelley Point, located on the right ("southern") bank of the mouth of the Willamette River, is Broughton's "Belle Vue Point", based on Broughton's statement that Belle Vue Point was located on the Willamette's (Broughton's "River Munnings") "southern point of entrance" and Broughton's map shows it to be the southern tip of the mouth of the Willamette River.

"... At one o'clock they quitted their dinner station, and after rowing about five miles still in the direction of the river S.5 E., they passed on the western side of a small river leading to the southwestward; and half a mile further on the same shore came to a larger one that took a more southerly course. In the entrance of the latter, about a quarter of a mile in width, are two small woody islets; the ajacent country extending from its banks presented a most beautiful appearance. This river Mr. Broughton distinguished by the name of River Munnings. Its southern point of entrance, situated in latitude 45o 39', longitude 237o 21', commanded a most delightful prospect of the surrounding region, and obtained the name of Belle Vue Point from whence the branch of the river, at least that which was so considered, took a direction about S.57E. for a league and a half. ... [Broughton, October 29, 1792]

Taken word-for-word, this assumption makes sense. However in the late 1920s and early 1930s J.Neilson Barry took the shifting islands at the mouth of the Willamette River into consideration, determined Broughton's "Belle Vue Point" was located on an island called "Coon Island", which had since become part of Sauvie Island. (See more below.)



1825 ... Hudson's Bay Company's Survey Map
The 1825 map of the Hudson's Bay Company called "Columbia River, Surveyed 1825" (printed 1826), called today's Multnomah Channel the "Willamitte Riv.". "Chenow's Village" is shown located on it's northern/western bank where the the Multnomah Channel merges with the Columbia. Today this area is a part of the community of St. Helens. The upper mouth of the river (today called the Willamette River) is depicted as two small channels with presumably an island inbetween them. The eastern/southern point of the furthest east channel is labeled "Belle Vue Pt.".

Hudson's Bay Company map detail, 1825, Willow Point to Fort Vancouver, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1825 Hudson's Bay Company map "Columbia River, Surveyed 1825", showing the area from Willow Point, Sauvie Island, Oregon, to Fort Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington. Original topographic map courtesy Washington State Historical Society, 2013.


1930 ... J. Neilson Barry, Letter to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names
"I am applying for the restoration of the name Belle Vue point, after studying the question for some years.

The solution is in the line of sight from Mount Hood, via Matthew point [today's Mathews Point], which necessarily strikes the westward bank of the Columbia on an island, since there is no main-land on that side within two or three miles.

The fact that the two extremely long reaches which meet at Matthew point seem not to have altered in the slightest since 1792, would indicate that this line of sight has always fallen on some island in that close proximity. I would guess that it has always been within 100 yards, or, at most, 1/4 mile, of where Broughton stood.

The apex of the point to be named is less than 1/4 mile from where the line of sight strikes that island.

I could find no evidence of Matthew point having washed to any extent, there is a slope upwards from the water, which appears to have been the same before the present large trees began to grow. Even if the point should have washed, the entire long bank on that side would have had to wash to a uniform extent, and in no case could it affect the line of sight, except to place it slightly further from the present apex of the unnamed point.

Mount Hood is almost exactly 50 miles away, and Matthew point about one mile, so any trivial washing of Matthew point would not affect the general locality of where the line of sight strikes the island.

The basis of the identification is necessarily this line of sight, in its relation to the westward bank of the Columbia, and not with reference to which of the four channels of the Willamette happen to be the larger at any time, since Admiral Wilkes' Hydrography Volume, of the survey of 1841 stated that the islands change annually, and the series of maps I am sending show some of the many changes.

Broughton undoubtedly stood upon an island, since there is nothing but islands for 2 or 3 miles, and his map indicates a number of mouths to the Willamette, at that time, just as there always were until recently when the U.S. Engineers artificially confined the Willamette to the present channel.

Coon island undoubtedly represents the island upon which Broughton stood when he named Belle Vue point, and the old channel between Coon island and Sauvie island undoubtedly represents the main channel in 1792, which Broughton's account shows was northward of where he stood.

This old channel was discussed as the one to be left open, but it was decided to close it, and the trees have not yet grown where it used to be.

That artificial closing of the old channel is the cause for the present location of the point being on a different side of the main channel than in 1792, but in no way affects the location of the land upon which Broughton stood, since the line of sight is unaltered.

I wish that is were psosible for you to see the beautiful view from that point. Matthew point with its mass of trees forms the foreground across the river, and beyond it the river extends almost to Mount Hood, with dense masses of trees along the river, and the blue mountians rising in the back ground.

Lewis and Clark show Tomahawk island between Hayden and the Washington shore, and this probably obstructed the channel in 1792, so that the main channel was south of Hayden island.

Broughton probably could not get the view for his sighting along the northern side of Hayden island, so sighted along the south channel, which was unobstruted. This south channel is now called North Portland harbor, from the suburb "North-Portland" which is being built on the ground reclaimed by diking.

The angle, from where the line of sight strikes Coon island, between Mount Hood and the present main channel is probably very slight, but the ten degrees difference noted by Broughton was the difference between the line of sight to Mount Hood and the SOUTH channel, (North-Portland Harbor).

That line of sight now determined as S.70E. probably gives a definite basis for computing the various angles of Broughton, and shows them about three degrees too far to the southward. Vancouver's figures made it S.67E.

His original report has been lost, and the angles given by Vancouver were computed from some supposed magnetic variation, in which Vancouver and Broughton disaggreed 1 1/2 degree. Vancouver estimated 20 E, Broughton 18 1/2 E.

I do not think that it is possible to determine anything by the angles to within three degrees.

Since there is local opposition to my efforts, I have tried to make this identification absolutely "bomb proof" and have made the mass of data into booklets to save trouble by the unfortunate person who has to examine the evidence. These can easily be separated if desired, but are fastened together for his convenience.

With best wishes and cordial regards, and trusting that the personal animosity toward me may not cause you again having trouble, I am Very sincerely yours, J.Neilson Barry."


Source:    J. Neilson Barry, September 15, 1930, Letter to the U.S. Geographic Board, courtesy U.S. Bureau of Geographic Names, Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 2019.



1931 ... J. Neilson Barry
"... Lieutenant W.R. Broughton, R.N., was in command of H.M.S. Chatham, one of the squadron of Captain George Vancouver, R.N., who was engaged in a survey of the northwest coast for the British admiralty. Broughton had ascended the river, with two boats, and, on October 29, 1792, reached Belle Vue Point, now Coon Island, at the mouth of the Willamette (Manning's) River, and there first saw Mount Hood *.

* Engineers have closed the old channel, so that Coon Island is now consolidated with Sauvie Island. ..."


Source:    J. Neilson Barry, 1931, Broughton up the Columbia River, 1792, IN: Oregon Historical Quarterly, vol.32, no.4, December 1931



1934 ... U.S. Board of Geographic Names
On February 7, 1934, the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Belle Vue Point" the official name over "Belle View Point" and "Coon Island". The location given is "45 39 21N" and "122 46 03W", and the decision was based on information submitted by J.N. Barry on September 15, 1930. Comments include "Belle Vue point; on left bank of Columbia River, Multnomah County, Ore., near lat. 45 39 43N, long. 122 46W, about half mile northwest of Kelley Point. So named by Lieut. W.R. Broughton, R.N., October 29, 1792." Reference: 1792, "Sketch of the River Columbia", by Lieut. Broughton, October 1792. Local usage "Coon Island", with comment "Recently island has been consolidated with Sauvie Island".


1937 ... Washington Historical Quarterly
News Department
Belle Vue Point:

"The United States Geographic Board has officially approved the identification of Belle Vue Point as named on the Columbia River in 1792 by Lieutenant W.R. Broughton. This is a distinct triumph for J. Neilson Barry who gave years of intensive study to the subject. Part of the study led to the Admiralty archives in London where a photostatic copy of Broughton's original chart was obtained."


Source:    Washington Historical Quarterly, vol.24, no.2, April 1937



Maps, Mouth of the Willamette River

1825 Hudson's Bay Company ...

Hudson's Bay Company map detail, 1825, Willow Point to Fort Vancouver, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1825 Hudson's Bay Company map "Columbia River, Surveyed 1825", showing the area from Willow Point, Sauvie Island, Oregon, to Fort Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington. Original topographic map courtesy Washington State Historical Society, 2013.

1841 Charles Wilkes, U.S. Exploring Expedition ...

Wilkes map detail, 1841, Deer Island to Fort Vancouver, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1841 Charles Wilkes, U.S. Exploring Expedition map "Map of the Oregon Territory", showing the area from Deer Island, Oregon, to Fort Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington. Original map courtesy NOAA Office of Coast Surveys, 2013.


1854 and 1862 Cadastral Surveys, mouth of the Willamette River ...

Cadastral map detail, 1854, T2N R1W, mouth of the Willamette River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1854 Cadastral Survey Map for T2N, R1W, showing islands in the mouth of the Willamette River. Original cadastral courtesy Bureau of Land Management, 2013.
Cadastral map detail, 1862, T2N R1W, mouth of the Willamette River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1862 Cadastral Survey Map for T2N, R1W, showing islands in the mouth of the Willamette River. Original cadastral courtesy Bureau of Land Management, 2013.


1859 and 1887, U.S. Army, mouth of the Willamette River ...

U.S. Army map detail, 1859, mouth of the Willamette River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1859 U.S. Army COE Map, "Columbia River Vancouver Wash. to Mouth of Willamette River (1859)". Original map courtesy UW/WSU Libraries, 2013.
U.S. Army map detail, 1887, mouth of the Willamette River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1887 U.S. Army COE Map, "The Columbia River from Celilo to the mouth showing locaion of the salmon fisheries (1887)". Original map courtesy UW/WSU Libraries, 2013.


1888 NOAA, mouth of the Willamette River ...

Nautical map detail, 1888, mouth of the Willamette River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1888 Navigation (NOAA) Map for the Columbia River, sheet no.6, Fales Landing to Portland, 1:40000, showing the mouth of the Willamette River. Original topographic map courtesy NOAA Office of Coast Surveys, 2013.


1896 Topographic, mouth of the Willamette River ...

Topographic map detail, 1896, mouth of the Willamette River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1896 Topographic Map for Portland, Oregon, 1:62500, showing islands in the mouth of the Willamette River. Original topographic map courtesy University of Texas Libraries, 2013.


1949 NOAA, mouth of the Willamette River ...

Nautical map detail, 1949, mouth of the Willamette River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1949 Nautical (NOAA) Map for the Columbia River, St. Helens to the Willamette River, 1:40000, showing the mouth of the Willamette River. Original topographic map courtesy NOAA Office of Coast Surveys, 2013.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...
 




Vancouver PlainsReturn to
Menu
 



SNAKE RIVER CONFLUENCE | COLUMBIA PLATEAU
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE | VANCOUVER PLAINS | JOURNEY TO THE PACIFIC
CAMPSITES


HOME | REGIONS | PENNY POSTCARDS | MY CORPS OF DISCOVERY
IMAGE INDEX | LINKS | ABOUT THIS SITE


COLUMBIA RIVER IMAGES - HOME
NORTHWEST JOURNEY - HOME
NORTHWEST BIRDING
RIDGEFIELD NWR - BIRDS
COMPLETE BIRD LIST - PHOTOS
THE BARLOW ROAD
THE COLUMBIA RIVER HIGHWAY
WILDFLOWERS and WEED BLOSSOMS



*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:
  • U.S. Board of Geographic Names, U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), 2019;
  • Washington Historical Quarterly, vol.24, no.2, April 1937;
  • Washington State Historical Society website, 2013;


All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
/Regions/Places/belle_vue_point.html
© 2019, Lyn Topinka, "ColumbiaRiverImages.com", All rights reserved.
Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
April 2019